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-pong balls? well, only about half a billion dollars, before taxes. yes, the powerball prize was a record setter. as the jackpot swelled, the ticket-buying frenzy topped a rate of 130,000 a minute. after an astounding 16 rollovers, the $580 million question tonight was, would anyone actually win this time? on the dreamer beat, once again tonight, here's abc's ryan owens. >> reporter: this had been a record-breaking jackpot night. >> america's favorite game coming to you right now -- >> reporter: after all of the hype, the days of breathless anticipation, it comes down to this. >> $580 million jackpot for you. >> reporter: in a television studio in tallahassee, florida, machines spit out six numbers. numbers that are oh so close, but not quite the ones printed on your ticket. tonight it turns out they did match for at least two people. abc news has confirmed two winning tickets were sold. one in arizona. one in missouri. while the reality that almost all of us have lost, yet again, sets in -- let's go back to this morning when we were all about to become half-billionaires. "nightline" spen
. i'm bill weir. it has been said that a lottery is really just a tax for people who are bad at math. but when the jackpot hits half a billion dollars, even mr. spock might let go of the logic to go buy a $2 fantasy. yes, the odds are 1 in 175 million, and yes, this powerball payday has rolled over 16 time without hitting all the numbers. but across much of the nation and all of tomorrow, all that will be pushed aside. drowned out by the inner mantra, somebody has to win and it might as well be me. here's rhinoens. . >> reporter: everyone who lines one cash in their hands and dreams in their heads seems to have a strategy. >> just one. >> reporter: by definition, just about everyone's strategy fails. is there any formula, any mathematical anything that can give you an edge over the person in front of you in line? >> no, don't put that on camera. >> there you go and good luck. >> thank you. >> reporter: to find out we went back to school tonight to southern methodist university to professor scott norris' math class. he went to harvard. >> the number of possible combinations is given b
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